Recently I listened to a young man share a life changing experience he had as a teen. He had gotten a number of scholarships to attend different colleges, but because of a girl he forfeited them and followed her to another college. He was then left with footing the bill for college after losing his scholarship offers. The folly of the young mind! The hope was that they would do life together – the long and lasting love that we all so passionately desire. Long and short of the story- she cheated on him, left him for someone else. That one experience forever changed him. He grew up very fast. Now he looked at the world and its players through a different lens. Trust would never come easy again. One wound, one scar – never the same. Sounds familiar to you? This is not so uncommon. It wears different faces, yet still called heartbreak.
Here’s a short story:
It was the end of the school year; finals were here. We were all excited about summer break. It was the season for young lovers to go gallivanting around – lots of fun to be had. I was ready to enjoy the summer with my ‘young love’ too. I finished my finals early and went home. He had to stay back on the college campus to do a late final. He spent the night there on his dorm. She stayed too as they had the same final. For some reason, they ended up studying together late in the evening. The dorms were partially empty- his roommate had also left. She fell asleep in his dorm room – no harm , no foul. They woke up late in the night – didn’t think it made sense for her to walk back to her half empty dorm in the middle of the dark night. She stayed.
I could try to explain what happened in that room that night, but all I really have was his version of it. I came back to campus the next day as a surprise; wanted to support my true love at the time. He seemed genuinely happy to see me and he held me in his arms. For that moment, the world stood still. His heart beating in unison with mine. I stood there for what seemed like eternity not wanting to lose the sacredness of that moment. We belonged together – here and now. I understand young love. It comes with a passion that can be blinding and all consuming. Feelings that sear through your young inexperienced heart can be difficult to tame or to explain.
He looked in my eyes, I paused. I knew he had something to tell me. He was like that – never hid anything from me. All his transgressions were often laid on the table. I laid some of mine too – not all.😎I was a different girl then. For some reason, anger was never my default emotion. I listened – I understood and I forgave. What would I do when I saw her next semester? I wasn’t sure. I had the entire summer to think about it. I pondered the why, the how and the what.
I saw her the next semester. We chatted as if nothing ever happened. I looked in her eyes and I remembered some of her story. Often times, in the past I’d seen tears falling from her eyes. She didn’t know that I saw them. I knew part of her secret and she had no clue. I knew that the one she wanted had kept her a secret. He would only call for her in the night hours. She didn’t know that I had noticed. I chose not question her about that night when lines were crossed. Surprisingly, I felt compassion when I should have felt anger. She too, like many, was a broken soul.
I never told her that he told me. I never heard her side of the story. Over thirty plus years, she still doesn’t know that I know what she did that summer. I chose not to allow it change who I was and how I saw the world. Years later, I found myself in a place where I too needed mercy and forgiveness. I received it. Quite possible, I had paid it forward that time I chose to forgive and let go.
With all its thistles and thorns, it’s still a beautiful world. People disappoint and they hurt us. I find that too often we allow these wounds to forever change who we are at the core. Instead of embracing the lesson, we become hardened, cynical, cold and bitter. All who come behind now has to pay the price for what we lost in our pain. Never let the residue of your pain define the inner workings of your heart. Keep your heart pliable in God’s hand – He truly knows how to restore the broken hearted.
***Thanks for reading – Life happens!